Meet a Faculty Member: Dr. Mary Hausbeck

posted on February 1, 2017 12:01am

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Dr. Mary Hausbeck is a MSU distinguished professor and associate chairperson of the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences.  Her research team is currently working to prevent and control downy mildew in cucumbers in Michigan.

This summer western Michigan experienced the highest presence of downy mildew in cucumbers. Downy mildew affects plants in cool and moist temperatures occurring mostly in the early spring and late fall.

Hausbeck receives samples of the spore trappings from farmers around Michigan. Her lab of undergraduate students tests the samples from farmers to determine the downy mildew presence.

“A big part of what we do is help protect the crops within the state by providing management strategies to the growers and producers in the state,” Dr. Hausbeck said. “In part that is to ensure a safe and secure food supply.”

Hausbeck’s lab encourages farmers to check the regularly update website for confirmed reports of downy mildew. This in turn can help farmers prevent or maintain the downy mildew in their area. Along with updating the national ipmPIPE website, the lab updates their own lab website regularly. 

Since August 2005, downy mildew has greatly affected cucumbers, but can also affect cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes, gourds, zucchinis, and honeydew melons.

Farmers and homeowners are encouraged to report symptoms of downy mildew. Symptoms on plants include: yellowing on the surface of leaves and velvety, fuzzy dark spore growth on the underside of the leaves.

Hausbeck’s lab and MSU Diagnostics Services accept submissions of photos and test samples to determine the presence of downy mildew in farmers’ plants. They encourage submissions of plants from farmers.

The lab that was founded in 1990 has been a resource for Michigan farmers to reduce the use of fungicides.